Social Issues Blog Erik

In our book club, we are reading Wonder by R.J. Palacio. We are thinking about the challenges the characters face and how their challenges affect them.

August faces many challenges. He has a facial birth defect and it’s a challenge for him every day to try and tell people that he is a normal person. He often bullied or left out in school, and he is judged on how he looks. These challenges prevent him from making that many friends. Soon, with all the people bullying him, he starts regretting that he had gone to school in the first place. He thinks that he doesn’t have any real friends because Principal Tushman assigned people to be his friends but he actually has real friends. The kids who bully him at school affected him to change his costume at the last second so he wouldn’t be picked on. The way that people treat him has made him when he was younger,  to wear an astronaut helmet to prevent any looks or sideways glances. He stopped wearing it only because he lost it. I think that if he didn’t lose it, he would have kept wearing it. August acts differently both when he is with people and when he is alone. When he is with people, it depends who he is with. If he is with his family and friends, he acts completely normal. If he is with people like Julian, he tries to avoid them the best he can. When August is alone, he thinks about himself more and his mind wanders to where it makes him scared, sad and angry.

Water Filtration 2018

Today, we made water filters. It was really satisfying to see that we could filter filthy water into almost clean water.


We began studying this unit after reading a book called Saving Salila’s Turtle about this girl called Salila who lives near the Ganges River which is horribly polluted. When she comes to the river one day, she finds a turtle covered in boat oil crawling around on the beach. She immediately adopts this creature and takes it home. Her father doesn’t like the idea of keeping it but her mother, an environmental engineer, doesn’t mind. So, together they hatch a plan to build their own filter. They make enough water for the turtle to live in and the story has a happy ending.


First, we talked about what was polluting the Ganges, so we listed a bunch of things that could be polluting it. We named oil, people washing their clothes or bathing causing more soap oil to go into the water. We also named that storms could cause sticks and silt to get blown into the river, even though that wasn’t mentioned in the story, it was very likely. Another thing we named was maybe human waste was dumped into the river, and that maybe this is what is creating the brown color.


We then were assigned to actually build filters ourselves to solve the problems Salila had. On the first day of building, we tested out some of the ingredients of our final product. We split into groups, and each group was given a bottle of different types of contaminated water. There were three types. A was mixed with tea, B was mixed with soil, and C was mixed with cornstarch. I felt sorry for the C groups because the cornstarch was permanently dissolved in there. Only like, carbon filters could have separated those two. Thankfully, we got a B and started trying to filter out soil using different materials. Here is a table:


                                                               Particles:                                                              Color:

Materials No Kinda Yes! No Kinda Yes!
Screen Check  Check
Sand & Gravel  Check Check
Coffee Filter  Check  Check


We moved on to build our final filter. We were given goals to try to reach. Our teacher brought out 5 bottles filled with different types of water to compare against. There was 5, which was dirty contaminated water, 4, with a lighter color and fewer particles. 3 was even lighter and had fewer particles, 2 was almost clear with a tiny amount of particles, and 1 was perfectly clear and clean water.


I proposed to use a little berry strainer, but my group declined it. In the first design, we used the same upside-down bottle with the bottom cut off as before. We first put a dried out baby wipe on top to get the big particles, then below that, we had another baby wipe inside of 4 stacked coffee filters, then finally a bundled up mosquito screen. Our second design was similar, except instead of the baby wipe on top, we stretched out the screen. And instead of the screen on the bottom, we used sand and gravel. Here is how that went:


                                                                                   Contamination Level:

Design #       5       4       3       2       1!
1  Check
2  Check

With this design, we had very good results as you can see. I liked this unit very much and hope we will come back to studying it in Middle School!


Here are some photos:


Immigration Project

Today, me and Arav just finished filming our stop motion film. It describes the immigrants in the early 20th century settling and trying to fit into the complex civilisation of New york at that time. It shows the immigrants living their life in New York, including their dining, working, and home experience. I have learned a lot on how poor people lived in the 1920s & 30s. Me and Arav argued a lot. One example is that, he wanted to start a new stop motion movie for the second half and I just said that we should stay with the same movie since their was no point for it. We ended up having to stop filming and go do something else. Well, that was good filming time lost. I am happy for today because we completed the stop motion, and the movie where you put together the clips with titles and audio. Since we couldn’t  get speech bubbles in iMovie, we had to have volunteers to say the character parts. I like how successful we are so far.

A Long Walk to Water


In class we are reading Long Walk to Water, by Linda Sue Park. We wonder on some questions about the main characters, and their traits.

What are the qualities of effective leadership? How does Salva demonstrate these quilities? Well, first you need to know that everybody trusts you and likes you and what you say. You need to have strength to stay at the top and also not to cry or fall behind because of a tragedy. Like Salva when he couldn’t find his parents. He cried and lagged behind. You need to be smart to know and identify what is ahead. Uncle Juir had this quality. When the group went into the land of the Atuan, he warned the group that there are lions. You need to protect whoever you’re leading and not to let them get out of your watch. You need to keep everyone together. Uncle Juir did not have this quality because Salva’s friend was dragged away by a lion under Uncle Juir’s nose.

How might Salva’s philosophy help you in life? If you look over something at its full length, you might get worried that you might not make it there. For example, if you do things at a smaller point of view, as Salva did in the desert, you don’t have to worry about it. You’ll think “Thats Easy!”, and you will do it again, and again until you reach whatever goal you have.

Why is perseverance so important? Perseverance is crucial to life because, without it, you can never get anything done if it is not on your first try. Reflecting on the book we used to read Home of the Brave by Catherine Applegate, Kek shows this by trying harder to make himself feel at home. Salva, shows this by the bit by bit strategies that I talked about earlier. When his uncle got murdered, he didn’t sit in a corner and cry, he tried harder and walked swifter and with more strength to try to be what uncle had been, the leader.

How can better develop the ability to persevere? Perseverance isn’t obtained, someone slowly develops it. One thing to strengthen your perseverance is try a challenge. When you fail at it, try again, and keep trying until you succeed. If you don’t have the ability to do that, then, try playing or doing something that you aren’t good at. Keep trying it, and you might get better at it.

Rube Goldberg #3

When we finished our Rube Goldberg, I reflected upon how hard we worked just for a cup of vinegar to go into the baking soda. The cardboard tubes, the ending task argument, the pin problem, phew! I can’t even list how many. When I saw the video, I was a little disappointed that Marcello didn’t catch the main part of the machine in the video. I know it wasn’t on purpose because he had a hard time getting down the stairs with the machine in his way, but still, I am a little nervous when we are going to show the video tomorrow. I am excited on my part since the bloopers at the end were very funny. Well, hope all goes well.


Here is the video:

Rube Goldberg #2

We just completed building our Rube Goldberg. We had many Debates [arguments] about what we should do when filming and what not, and I am excited. All we need to do is 1. Take pictures of our design, 2. Complete the task successfully, and 3. Is to make our video. I am considerably worried that we can’t make this in time but Marcello suggested that we ask our teacher for an extra day to complete it. I honestly think that we might fail but I got my hopes up in the last few days. We first had arguments about wherever to make our Rube Goldberg unique or not, I was on the unique side sine I wanted ours to stand out among the other projects. In the end, I was a combination of both. we had many unique tubes and a simple task [pouring baking soda in vinegar] but we also had balls and dominoes and what not. I am happy that we have a good completed task but I am still worried about the filming. We had another argument about the introduction. We planed to make another Introduction but I thought that the other one was fine. He said that we should explain the whole Rube in video on every trial, but I said that we already had an introduction that explained everything that came before all the tries, so we wound’t have to explain it again. But we are going to complete this today.

Rube Goldberg

Last week, me and my friend Marcello started our design for our Rube Goldberg project. A Rube Goldberg is a complicated machine related chain reaction that you use to complete a simple task. For example, if I want to pour water into a cup, I could knock down dominoes and then the dominoes hit a ball and then ball hits the tap switch and the tap runs water in the cup. A Rube Goldberg is like that except around 8x more complex. To build a machine like this you need to do the following: Create a design, list materials, experiment your design, build the full model, and finally, share it. Me and my friend have done the first three, and we still have to build our full model. Our model has 12 transfers of energy. This means that energy transfers into different things to make them move / rotate. I am worried that we will not have enough time but I hope we will make it before the deadline. The project is due at the end of January. We have two weeks to do this. I like this project and I am excited to share it. We have to figure out certain things but I am sure that my friend and I will know what to do.







On Tuesday, Dec. 5 we went on a trip to the New York Hall of Science in Queens. I was really excited when I first heard this and when I left in the permission slip, I was dancing around the classroom, (excuse me). We went on the bus trip which was boring, but when we went through the doors there was this mars rover waiting for us. The Cooper kids immediately went and started playing with it, but my group had to go upstairs. It was fine since we went up to the “sports” area. Inside, there was a pitching net that told you how many mph your fastball went, a surfing simulator, racing reaction time, and a wheelchair race. Downstairs, we heard people scream “EEWWW”, so that meant that meant some real science was going down. When it was time to go downstairs, we were introduced to a whole workshop filled with dispensers of smell. The worst one was the one of yeast. It said it was real, but I didn’t believe it. I think this because me and my mom were baking Swedish Christmas buns, and when the dough was yeasting, it was nothing like the smell at the museum. I think they try to do that because they wanted to gross us out . There was this hall of mirrors that was cool because there were mirrors that made us short midgets and another one that made us really tall. There was also an example of bubbles when we got to rim dish soap in metal rings to make huge bubbles. It was soo fun. The people at the bubbles were pugnacious to get  a spot on the line so I suggested not to go again. When we went home, I was very sad, so I plan to come here again sometime with my family.

Constitution Project

We are working on a Constitution Project. This is where we study People, Events, Places, Technology, Art, and documents of the Constitutional Period. We rolled die to pick which one we were doing. There was another dice that had Video, Design Something, Explain Everything, Social Media, Padlet, and a photonovel. I rolled and got technology and design something. There were choices and I chose the printing press.


Yesterday, I built the main parts of my printing press. The 10-inch thing was made of plywood with bolts and screws. First,  I sawed the wood with my dad. It was hard since the saw got stuck most of the time in the wood. The press works by the main bolt in the middle called a platen. There is a dowel that you press down so the main board presses ink on to the paper. Next, we drilled holes into the pieces. The first piece we had to have a 1-inch drill bit to drill not all the way down. This is the ink board were the platen ends. We screwed together most of it but we still need to screw the board.

Before Lunch #2

Today we finished our 2nd rocket design. There was some disagreement between us when we argued to decide which bottle to use, the short stubby one, or the long one we used last time. I voted for the long one since, 1, we were the highest with that bottle so I thought we should use it, 2, the nose cone did not fit onto the short one anyway. Then we glued the new wings on (they weren’t really new since we just traced the old wing shape onto the cardboard) and I beautifully glued the nose cone on. Jackpot!